Monday, September 28, 2015

What do you do now that you are retired?

     Being retired, I hear two questions frequently. One being, "How do you like retirement?" I have no problem answering that one. I love, love, love it. I left and never looked back. I took to it from day one. I don't miss it at all. My job had many good points (and many bad) and I remember both but that is a part of my past. I am living in the now.

     The next question I am asked is "What do you do now that you are retired?" This one always stumps me. I feel like they want to hear something big like I went on a special trip to somewhere far away or exotic. Or that I have finished writing my novel (Lord, help me to be able to say that sometime soon!) Or that I cleaned out my basement and attic. Or that I took up a hobby and started selling or giving away handmade items. Or that I needed to get a part time job to be happy or for money. Or I volunteer somewhere.

     The thing is, I can't name any big thing and for a moment I feel like a retirement failure. But retirement is a different thing to different people. I know some who hate it. They need structure in their lives and are floundering without it. Not us.

     Still, I feel the need to come up with an answer but I stumble over the words. They don't want to hear that I get up when I want, pretty much do what I want and sometimes it's constructive and sometimes it's lazy. Some would think that is a boring answer and I feel the need to impress them with something. There are those, though, who would be jealous with that answer.

     What we do are the little things. Here is a sample of our last fifteen days. We go to breakfast every Sunday with my Dad followed by church. We also went to a book sale that Sunday. The next three days we went on our first senior trip for three days to the 1,000 Islands. Later that week we did our marathon day at the Big E. The next day we made appearances at the Apple Fest in Granby and Sam Collins Day in Canton. The next day after setting up the coffee and refreshments for church and going to church, we went to New Hartford Days. The next day we went to see a dear little friend play soccer and afterwards went to a library to see an Edgar Allen Poe impersonator, who was terrific.

     On Tuesdays we usually go to a senior lunch and this Tuesday we did that and in the evening went to a birthday dinner celebration. Wednesday afternoon had us seeing one grandson play soccer for a bit and another doing Jujitsu. There were the boring things like dentist and grocery shopping (with time to plan and use many coupons matching up sales). There are the day to day taking care of bills and minimal housework and meal planning. I tried two new recipes in this time period.

     Then as Saturday rolled around we had 3 more soccer games to watch followed by another birthday celebration. Sunday we partook in the usual breakfast and church followed by another book sale. Relocating books is  a hobby of ours and in this short time period we acquired from various sources over 100 books and have re-located half of them. We are working on the rest.

     After grabbing a quick lunch at home, we took my father to a musical play in Torrington that we all thoroughly enjoyed. In the evening I spent over an hour on a date with the moon taking pictures as the sun cast our shadow upon it turning it orange. I could stay up late because I could get up whenever I wanted in the morning.

     Besides this, George does Yoga a couple of times a week and goes for regular walks. He has been working on his class reunion and sent out over sixty invitations this week. He reads a lot. I read but not nearly as much. He loves TV and I love the internet. I just finished re-writing a 5,000 word story that I had him edit and now am going to submit to a publication and then forget about it because they won't let me know until January.

     That was the last fifteen days. This week we both have dentist appointments and he has two doctor appointments, one I have to drive him to New Haven over an hour away.

     I know there are families with children who do a lot too. This would seem like a break without working full time to them. but for us retired folks, this is busy and just enough.

     So, what should I say to people when they ask, "What do you do in retirement?" All I can think of is to say, "stuff". I don't have to live up to their retirement expectations. Maybe I should say, "whatever I want" and what I want is just to be happy and I am.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our first Senior Trip

We have been members of a senior center and have gone on day trips, but we decided to test the deeper waters with a three day trip to the Thousand Islands.

Would we like being told where to go and when ? Would we like being part of a large group every where we went? I went on this trip partly to find the answers to these questions.

We started our bus ride with a rainbow along the beginning of our route. That was a pleasant surprise.

When I packed for the trip, I always plan on my own personal "entertainment" for the bus. Had I a smart phone, I would probably have been on the free wifi, but I was prepared with a book to read, puzzle book, handheld game and paper and pen to write. The ride was more than 5 hours without stops. I was prepared and part of me would enjoy the concentrated time to kick back with these pleasures.

Well, first lesson on a trip like this, the tour guide will provide some entertainment. Whether you want to participate in the games or movies, is your choice, however in our case the speaker was so loud that we had to succumb to the group activities. Scratch my own agenda. Though I will say that I did have some free time too not orchestrated by someone else. I also have to add that I won one of the games--a math problem, no less. I am not great at math either. Won a cute of set of candle holders. If you want to know the math problem, let me know.

We stayed at the Riveredge Resort with beautiful balcony views from our rooms.

The rooms for the most part were quite nice--just a couple of little complaints but not worth mentioning.

We had free time until dinner and first took a stroll along the walk way on the water's edge.

The castles in the distance were our future destination for the next day.

With more time until dinner, we decided to take a walk into Alexandria Bay.

Most unique chess set I've ever seen. The pieces are about 2 feet tall.
Then we returned for group dinner in the dining room. Afterwards a few of us ventured outside again to catch the sunset.

Thus ended our first day.

The next day we all boarded the buses to drive to the Uncle Sam Tour boats that we could see from our rooms. We boarded these for a narrated tour about the 1000 Islands (technically there are 1864 of them). We were blessed with three beautiful weather days for our mini-vacation.

Our first stop was the Singer Castle (Singer sewing machine heirs).

We were led on a guided tour of this awesome castle.

Of all the majestic rooms and designs, this is what I liked most. These little areas set apart to sit in private with someone overlooking the water. I don't know if there is a name for these little areas, but I would love one! 

Another cool chess set.

This is a further away shot of the little sitting areas that I love--there were three, I believe, in a row. 

There were secret stairways and passageways.

Back on the boat, we were told more about the 1000 Islands as we enjoyed the view.

We learned that three criteria exists for it to be deemed an island. It has to be above water 365 days a year, be able to grow a tree and be at least six square feet.

Soon we arrived at our next stop, the Boldt Castle. This one has a romantic history. George C. Boldt came from Prussia and his rags to riches story reveals that he became a hotel magnate in America including the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

I thought I got a better picture of the outside of the castle, but obviously didn't.

George C. Boldt had this castle built as a summer home for the love of his life, his wife, Louise. The island resembled the shape of a heart, and he had it re-shaped even more so to resemble a heart.
The grounds include Alster Tower (the Play House) and a Yacht House.

Sadly, Louse died before the castle was completed. George C. Boldt immediately ordered all work stopped and three hundred workers left the island. The sculptures, tapestries, furniture imported from around the world were never put in place.

When the property was eventually sold, it was with the condition that no one ever sleep even one night in the castle. I should have taken pictures of the three floors of unfinished work. It is a shell of work to be finished.

The bottom floor shows just how elegant it would have been. We were disappointed that this part of our group tour made us go through it all in a whirl wind and most of us would have loved a lot more time to wander the castle and grounds in this self-guided tour.

The lesson we can all learn from Boldt Castle is all the money in the world can't buy everything.


the playhouse

The Boldt Castle is sticking up behind the trees.

Back on the boat, we enjoyed more views of the islands.

Into town to eat, took a couple of pictures of murals. 

After a delicious dinner at the Clipper Inn, we returned to our hotel.

Night view from our balcony.

One of many seagulls always circling the area.
 One last walk the next morning.
A very friendly duck.

Then we were off on the bus for a couple of hours to an Erie Canal boat ride. We had terrific seats in front.

Have to wait for the water level to lower and the gates to open before we can proceed through.

On the way back, have to wait for water to raise the level before the gates can open.

That was the end of our adventures. We went on the bus for more games and a movie and one rest stop before arriving home.

So, the final decision is yes, we would go on a senior trip again. Yes, there were some annoyances. There was the drawback of arriving everywhere as a huge group and having to always wait in line for "fast" food and rest rooms. We had a great group that did not once hold up the bus. Half of the bus was from Barkhamsted area and half from Norwalk. Although we didn't intermingle much, everyone was cordial. 

Another con would be not being able to stop and see other things that we may have chosen to see or do, and being restricted to the timing of tours but all that is expected. Nice to have all the checking in and ticket buying all done. I'm not sure I could go on a long trip, but three days was fine.

It was fun for us traveling with relatives too. Nice to spend extra time with them and explore new things with them. So, ends another adventure of Debbie & George.